|View of Denver and the Rockies to the west of Cherry Creek Reservoir|
Our second Colorado state park was Cherry Creek which we chose for its proximity to Aurora where Chris’ college friend, “Tommy D” lives. He came to our campsite at Cherry Creek for dinner and shared an awesome salad and pie. He also charmed Lily with his deep voice and playful games.
|Dinner at our campsite with Tommy D|
Denver was a surprise to me because I have idealized Colorado as a foothills “main street” community (probably similar to my “NJ is the armpit of America” childhood stereotype) rather than another sprawling city with gigantic single-family home suburbs and prolific pavement. Through NPR news I learned about the suffering schools in Colorado and the abundant non-native residents with degrees. In other words, the state is a haven for educated, affluent transplants and does not invest a lot in the education of its locals. As unexpected as this revelation was, I did expect to be awed by the geography and that certainly was the case when Tommy D took us to Red Rocks Park.
|The top row and southern shiprock of Red Rocks Amphitheater|
What an incredible feat of design and construction. Between two huge ship rocks of red layered sediment, is an impressive amphitheater that can seat 20,000! It overlooks the city and miles of prairie beyond. We learned from Tom that Denver used to be desert prairie the same way Phoenix used to be just desert. The majority of the trees (except those along rivers) in Denver were planted and wouldn’t exist there but for humans. Wouldn’t it be great if it were stylish in Colorado to have a prairie grass lawn? We also learned about Denver’s system of “stealing” water from the western slope of the Rockies…a common theme out here where we want to live in areas that do not have the water to support our habits. We enjoyed a great lunch out with Tommy D then said goodbye, much to Lily's disappointment, as she just loved meeting him!
|Chris takes our picture from outside the camper...Lily looks huge in the sling now!|
Lily is getting heavy. I have no gauge except my surprise each morning upon picking her up. I love how she wakes up in a different fashion every day, sometimes tugging on the sheets and rousing me, sometimes yawning and squeaking, sometimes grunting for some nummy-nums as Nana calls it (milk). She is amazing in the way her natural curiosity makes her want to touch and taste everything she sees. It’s a real challenge to prevent a temptation to grab something like…paper or a tea mug and it’s also fun to let her try out the potato masher and whisk. She can now drink from her sippy cup although holding it and drinking have not occurred simultaneously yet. She nearly leaps from our arms trying to grab things and she bounces her legs and flails her arms when she gets excited. She waves back at people when they say hi and smiles as usual. We have also noticed a recent trend toward whining or crying when she can’t have what she’d like. All we can do is encourage her to use her sign language for ‘please’ and to be ‘gentle’ when she grabs at our face or my hair.
|Our Cherry Creek campsite|
Somehow we reserved, online, one of the nicest sites at Cherry Creek. Nestled into a corner of one of the loops, we had woods nearly all around us. The most awesome benefit of this locale revealed itself the evening that Tommy D came over for dinner. He saw a large bird land on a tree limb not far from the camper. After a close look I was sure it was an owl. Over the next three days we saw our Great Horned neighbor on several occasions the closest of which was on a rainy evening at dusk. He/She perched on a teeny branch off a tree about twenty feet from our bedroom window for about twenty minutes.
|Tough to spot, look just to the left of the big tree trunk|
We also saw Red Shouldered Hawks, Mule Deer and Magpies along with White Pelicans on the reservoir. Lily and I took about a five-mile walk on some of the paved paths in the park one day. We were passed at high speed by several road bikes that use the path for transport, training, and recreation. I was definitely in the minority being on foot. I did chat with a man in a recumbent tricycle who was all too happy to share about his love for his vehicle. I was curious whether he got a sore neck given the reclined position…he had adjusted it to be comfy for him and so did not get sore.
|Lily naps in the stroller as the bikes whizz by|
It has been refreshing to be in the rain. I say this mainly because of the weather we’re used to in April which is cloudy, rainy, windy and cold. Believe it or not, Jersey family and friends, I missed the rain. I appreciate it all the more now since being in places where it rains nearly never. It may seem odd but I’m grateful that my family (parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc) lived in areas where water is not as much of an issue. So many people are subject to the choices their parents make and even feel they have to escape that life to make their own. We are blessed to have been given solid ground and safe surroundings in which to grow up and grow out of if we choose. What a gift.